For four months now, we have been inundated with some incredibly absurd thinking on the necessities of the current war. From the neocons to the democratic-left to the reputed libertarians, we see much conjecture on the need for an all-out assault on tiny little Afghanistan, whose mere existence is purported to be a threat to the American way of life we all enjoy. Of course, after we have bombed this tiny spot on the map out of existence, the questions become numerous. What did we accomplish? How did we obtain "justice" for the attacks upon our own soil? How have we furthered our freedom and served to protect our country from further terrorist attacks?
Of course, our government officials have not answered these questions and neither have the War Party types who stand behind such actions. It is merely repeated that this is "justice". However, that word has become a generic motivation for rounding up the masses in support of this so-called "American way of life" and other nomenclatures that "a true patriot" cannot possibly oppose.
Culled from a recent e-mail post, let me introduce a brief but excellent analysis by David Theroux, the President and Founder of The Independent Institute, on recent U.S. government actions and why it is unbefitting of libertarians to support such actions. Mr. Theroux suggests to LRC readers what is and isn't libertarian, and poses some tough questions for avowed libertarians to ponder and review:
Too many people are presuming that somehow the U.S. government can and does represent us contractually, and that somehow socialism can be made to work for defense purposes. However, government institutions by definition exist primarily based on coercing the peaceful choices of people, representing political interest groups who use government power against others, and making decisions based on an incoherent and anti-social collectivist calculus. Isn't this exactly what libertarians are against? To believe that the Air Force knows how to protect you by bombing a village in Afghanistan is preposterous, especially when we add in the fact that the funding of the operation and the munitions used were stolen from you in the first place. In addition, it is important for Americans to understand that the cave complex in Tora Bora that is being bombed by the U.S. is the same complex that was largely designed, funded, and constructed by the CIA in the 1980s.
The ongoing utilitarian arguments for "acceptable" civilian casualties are nothing more than the same tired "end justifying the means" rationalizations we have seen used to justify mass murders over millennia. If in seeking to end the mafia's hit squads in Chicago, you started dropping bombs which in turn killed innocent people, guess what? You are responsible for the murders. The point is that bombing may not be an effective nor just means of apprehending an asymmetric criminal organization. But if you are a collectivist organization like the Defense Department with thousands of high-tech, high-priced missiles and assorted lethal gadgets, you do not want to be bothered by the normal rule of law when killing innocent people in the process. (see "Just War? Moral Soldiers?", by Laurie Calhoun, The Independent Review).
The U.S. has now completed well over 2,000 bombing raids and continues to do so knowing that NONE of those responsible for the mass murders in the U.S. are now even in Afghanistan. So, there must be some additional purpose to U.S. policies there, just as there was when the U.S. was supporting the Reagan/Bush "Freedom Fighters" in the 1980s that became the blowback-created Al Qaeda. This purpose consists of the determination by the U.S. to ensure its control of the region, primarily for its oil (including the new oil pipeline to the north). A very important article (despite some flaws) that critically discusses U.S. policies in this region and globally is "A New Grand Strategy", by Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne (The Atlantic Monthly, January 2002).
Congressman Ron Paul admirably submitted a bill in Congress which would issue "Letters of Marque and Reprisal" (based on Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution) to authorize private parties to go after the terrorists, just as private bounty hunters do otherwise. (see "Let Privateers Troll for Bin Laden," by Larry J. Sechrest). However, the White House, the defense and intelligence establishments, and the leadership in Congress are firmly against any such moves because they do not want the competition that would likely show up the military-industrial-congressional complex for what it really is — a massive system of pork that as of 9/11 has been shown to be unable to protect Americans from foreign threats (see The Independent Review article, "The Cold War is Over, but U.S. Preparation for It Continues," by Independent Institute senior fellow Robert Higgs).
If accurate, the economist Marc Herold has performed a real service in documenting the deaths of innocent people in Afghanistan. And, any libertarian should be first in line to applaud such efforts to the extent they can be confirmed, because if libertarians are not for protecting innocent people from being killed (protecting their rights to life), what indeed can liberty or libertarianism mean, if anything? Furthermore, the fact that many Americans are insensitive to the deaths of innocent Afghans is a vile reflection of a widespread xenophobia that U.S. government officials are taking advantage of in accountably prosecuting this war.
And, the further fact that the new "War on Terrorism" is being used as the current "crisis" to justify a massive series of pork and corporate welfare programs, systematic government surveillance and potential trampling on the Bill of Rights, and other anti-liberty measures should be enough to give any libertarian pause. (see for example, "In the Name of Emergency," by Robert Higgs).
For other studies pertaining to these issues, please visit their archive on the War on Terrorism.
So the overall message is, step up and buy the government's propaganda, and choose war and foreign entanglements, or be ostracized. To the neocons and their supporters we ostracized folks say: sorry, we don't buy your hysterical propaganda and we don't endorse your Statist War Machine, either.
January 22, 2002
Karen De Coster, CPA, [send her mail] is a freelance writer and graduate student in economics, and works as a business consultant in the Midwest. David Theroux [send him mail] is Founder President of the Independent Institute and Publisher of The Independent Review, a highly recommended quarterly journal presenting critical analysis of current affairs and government policy.
Copyright © 2002 Karen De Coster